Disclaimer: On the Growers Choice blog, we aim to educate you about cannabis, how it can potentially help, and how it can affect you. While more and more people are turning to cannabis to treat mental health conditions, the scientific jury is still out on its benefits and long-term effects. We do not advocate replacing prescription medication or beginning to use cannabis for medical reasons without first speaking with a doctor. Please do your research, never rely on a single source for your information, and use responsibly!
There are many reasons why people turn to marijuana. Some people hear from others users that marijuana can potentially help with things like chronic pain or anxiety. Therefore, they might be looking for relief, or simply seeking a bit of recreation that isn’t much different than having a few beers. Based on some anecdotal evidence, some people claim that marijuana can potentially help with mood disorders.
So, whether you just want to explore using marijuana as a fun evening activity, or you’re actively thinking about it as a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals, let’s dive into the details behind cannabis and mood.
Why does cannabis affect your mood?
Most people know by now that cannabis affects the brain. Specifically, it is the cannabinoids in the plant that generate all the effects this multipurpose plant provides. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds that, interestingly, match to certain “receptors” already in our bodies. Because this link was discovered during early research into THC (the most prominent of the 80-plus cannabinoids), the system of receptors in the human body is often called the endocannabinoid system.
This system is responsible for the production and dispersal of chemicals that help our bodies maintain homeostasis or equilibrium — something vital to our continued health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally. When this balance is thrown off, due to illness or other factors, we can feel crappy for a few hours, or get really sick.
Back to cannabinoids. These cannabis compounds bear a striking resemblance to neurotransmitters that interact with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. As a result, based on anecdotal evidence, smoking, vaporizing, or otherwise ingesting cannabis potentially enables these cannabinoids to fill in for missing neurotransmitters, prompt their creation, or build on our existing stores.
There are two types of receptors in the endocannabinoid system: CB1 and CB2. Cannabis doesn’t affect everyone the same, and different types have different effects because the concentrations of these receptors are different throughout the body and from person to person.
CB1 receptors mostly exist in the brain, so cannabinoids that activate primarily CB2 receptors, which exist throughout the body, are going to have less of a psychoactive effect. This is a very simplified description, of course, but it should help make clear why cannabis has so many different effects.
Cannabis and Anxiety
There is a ton of conversation about cannabis and anxiety. You might notice on our website that when we mention the two, we say cannabis could potentially help symptoms of anxiety based on anecdotal evidence.
There is no evidence that marijuana causes anxiety, but that isn’t to say it’s harmless either, necessarily. It seems the biggest potential issue with using marijuana — and this goes for any mental health-related toking — is the risk that the body will become dependent on the cannabinoids.
This means that your body could potentially stop producing the cannabinoids on its own that it is getting from cannabis. And that leads to a cyclical issue. So it is always best to talk to a doctor before you start managing yourself with cannabis.
The fact that marijuana can cause this issue, however, also implies it can potentially help symptoms of anxiety by offering up these very transmitters, according to some medicinal users. Cannabis plays in the reward system of the body, stimulating the release of dopamine, which can make you feel happy and, in large quantities, get you high.
Some strains that medicinal marijuana users claim can potentially help with anxiety:
Lots of people light up or nibble on a brownie when they get home from work, to help alleviate stress. When talking about mental health and moods, it is essential to point out that stress — while problematic in its own ways — is not anxiety, which is a mental health disorder.
There is no hard science about cannabis for anxiety, but some people claim it might potentially ease their symptoms. As one article points out, however, it all comes down to frequency, as well. It is possible that “frequent users may be medicating the symptoms of cannabis withdrawal rather than anxiety”, and that’s a whole new issue.
More popular strains among medicinal users:
Whatever you’re seeking to accomplish, dosage is an important consideration. A small, infrequent dose of calming indica weed could help a person get to sleep and feel relaxed. However, too much of the wrong strain can have you on edge.